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Burger King’s WhopperCoin: would you use branded cash?

Burger king

Burger King Russia has launched its own-branded virtual currency, the ‘WhopperCoin’. The virtual cash will allow customers to purchase a Whopper burger for 1,700 WhopperCoins. But could you be persuaded to ditch your pounds for branded currency?

Now, virtual currency isn’t all that new, Bitcoin has been around for a fair few years now – early investors in Bitcoin have reportedly made their millions, with Fortune magazine reporting in May that a $5 investment in Bitcoin seven years ago would be worth $4.4m today. And today there are over 900 cryptocurrencies out there in the ether.

The mere principle of cryptocurrency seems mind-boggling – a digital asset that never physically changes hands, so who knows what the future of this digital cash will be. But while it seems so crazily futuristic, Burger King’s announcement of its own-branded virtual cash leaves me wondering if this really is money madness or just a sign of the times…

WhopperCoin

Burger King’s head of external communications has claimed that its new virtual currency scheme has created an investment vehicle from the Whopper burger.

A WhopperCoin reportedly equates to one rouble (about 1.3p). Burger King has explained that its customers will amass the virtual cash every time they buy a Whopper burger – so it’s essentially a loyalty scheme.

But the virtual currency differs from a normal loyalty scheme, as customers will supposedly have the freedom to spend their amassed coins with whoever else accepts them (but perhaps not in McDonald’s…).

Burger King customers in Russia will be able to claim their accrued coins by scanning their receipt with a smartphone.

Commenting on this announcement, Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University and a director at the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, stated on Twitter:


Now, according to some financial commentators, we’re experiencing a cryptocurrency boom. So with Burger King unveiling its own-branded virtual currency this week, do we accept this as the future and will we soon be trading our coffee-addiction accrued ‘StarBucks’ to pay for the weekly shop?

Do you think more brands will launch their own virtual currencies? Or is this simply money madness?

Comments
Member

At first, I thought this was just a glorified loyalty scheme. Then, I researched further and discovered Whoppercoins can be freely transferred and traded online. Absolutely bizarre.

Member

To be fair, if I could accumulate my loyalty card points (I spend far too much money in Boots) and then convert them to spend elsewhere, that would be a beneficial scheme in my eyes. Unfortunately, I think my last Burger King Whopper was about 10 years ago, so the WhopperCoin isn’t really something that I’d consider buying in to.

Member

So a Burger King Whopper in Russia costs £22.10 (in roubles) – 1700 Whoppercoins @1.3p each?

Member

Seems like it – as I understand it that’s what the value of a WhopperCoin is considered to be, you gain one WhopperCoin per rouble (1.3p conversion to sterling) and that’s how you accumulate them – it’s estimated that every five or six purchases will give enough WhopperCoins to purchase a Whopper burger.

Member

@ldeitz, благодаря 🙂

Member

No problem, Malcolm. Fascinating concept, but I’m not sure if you’re really being rewarded?

Member

How many WhopperCoins to the Bitcoin? We need to know the exchange rate.

Member

The WhopperCoin is its own version of cryptocurrency (and Bitcoin is another) so I’m not entirely sure what the process would be for exchanging a WhopperCoin for a Bitcoin would be – I’m not sure that the two virtual currencies would exchange in that way. However, I suppose you could do the maths – one Bitcoin is valued at 278247.56 Russian Rubles (about £3,706.75 according to today’s conversion rate) and if 1,700 is equal to one ruble then you’ll need to eat a lot of Whoppers to start converting to Bitcoins…

Member

Will we see the return of Greenshield Stamps? A book of 1024 – for which you would have had to spend at least £25.12.0d – could be exchanged for 10/- worth of goods.